Violence of Inscriptions #1–4

A project by Sandra Noeth, Arkadi Zaides and HAU Hebbel am Ufer

“Violence of Inscriptions” takes interest in human bodies under political and social violence. Based on the performativity and physicality that the body introduces in the discussion, the project questions the possibility of representing and critically reflecting experiences of structural violence with artistic, discursive, and activist means.

In collaboration with HAU Hebbel am Ufer and grounded in existing and in-progress work by dramaturge and researcher Sandra Noeth and choreographer and performer Arkadi Zaides, the serial project “Violence of Inscriptions” unfolds in five chapters that take place in between 2016 – 2018. Acknowledging the complexity of the topic and its ideological, political, ethical and legal implications, this format aims at breaking down the general question into more specific aspects and lines of tension, these might be:

#1 On Experience & Representation (4.+5.3.2017)
#2 On Resilience (30.6.+1.7.2017)
#3 On Collectivity, and Its Boundaries (17.+18.11.2017)
#4 On the Integrity of the Body (13.,15.,16.06.2018)

In each session, an international group of artists, thinkers, human rights activists and experts from other fields and different disciplines and geo-political contexts gathers in a workshop meeting of several days. The respective practices and perspectives of the participants provide the initial material for the exchange and concretize the discussion. This internal part of the project will be accompanied by a public program with artistic presentations, screenings, installations, round tables and lectures at HAU Hebbel am Ufer.

Violence of Inscriptions #4: On the Integrity of the Body

13., 15.+16.6.2018

The idea – and the claim – of the integrity of the body are at the core of the last edition of  “Violence of Inscriptions.” What does it actually mean for our bodies to stay safe and sound, without harm, under the experience of structural violence? And what can we set against these often indirect and creeping attacks on our own and other people’s bodies – aesthetically, symbolically, by words? The practice of our international guests from arts, human rights activism and theory is the starting point for the 3-day presentation and workshop programme: over-writing scars with tattoos; filming and dancing of gestures and movements that are about to withdraw or disappear; writing in order to make the silencing and political stigmatization of bodies speakable again; defining shame and neglect as meaningful places to artistically act from.

Violence of Inscriptions #3: On Collectivity, and Its Boundaries 


The experience and representation of collectivity are closely linked to an active act of imagination and representation where identities are not just given but constructed and performed. Thus, artistic and theoretical practices matter in this process of chosen or imposed filiations and legacies. What does it mean when a body, in the desire of having something in common, of sharing certainty, stands in for a broader cause? How do gestures and movement equip us with a sense of recognition, with a feeling of home? And where does collectivity end up in monitoring our imagination and introduce (self-)censorship? “Violence of Inscriptions #3” brings together an international group of artists and scholars. In their performances and lectures, in a film and series of dialogues, they take on the question of what it takes to belong.

Violence of Inscriptions #2: On Resilience 


How can we deal with the vulnerability of the body? In light of multiple situations of political and social violence as well as personal suffering, the idea of a resilient body seems more urgent than ever. In the context of the second edition of “Violence of Inscriptions”, resilience describes the ability of the human body to endure and resist experiences of structural violence, to recover shape and to re-orient itself as well as its environment. Thereby, it calls forth neoliberal ideas of change, flexibility and elasticity as well as practices of healing and care. The two-days program combines performance, lecture, film, choreography and dialogue. Grounded in the respective practices of the invited artists and thinkers, it questions how we position ourselves in light of structural violence: how do we adapt to our social, political and institutional environments and how do we challenge them critically? What is the role of the body, of movement in this process?  

Violence of Inscriptions #1: On Experience and Representation


“Violence of Inscriptions #1: On Experience and Representation” is the first chapter in a series of artistic and theoretical reflections on bodies under structural violence, developed in collaboration with HAU Hebbel am Ufer between 2017-18. In their presentation and drawing on the performativity and physicality that the body and that movement introduce in the discussion, Arkadi Zaides and Sandra Noeth will introduce the program that questions the possibility of representing and critically reflecting experiences of structural violence with artistic, discursive, and activist means. Thereby, they acknowledge the problem that structural violence is often perceived in its repercussions, its aftermath and its gradual extension. As a consequence, it tends to not produce a spectacular and explosive imagery, and thus risks to be insufficiently represented (and have limited agency) in official memory, in strategic planning, archives, documentation and public media. Thus, “Violence of Inscriptions #1” is not only invested in critically questioning in which way arts and discourse provide means and strategies to raise awareness for the above-mentioned phenomena; it equally takes interest in the limits of our engagement, the thresholds of empathy, the uneasy relationship between the ‘real experience’ of violence and its representation.


The project is supported within the framework of the Alliance of International Production Houses by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.